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Acton Notes - November 2007

Yuri Maltsev Discusses “Crimes of Communism”

Yuri Maltsev said of Vladimir Lenin and the Soviet Revolution, “The more they started shooting, the more people listened.” Yuri Maltsev returned for the Acton Lecture Series on September 27, having previously spoken at the first Acton lecture in 1990. Maltsev spoke on the atrocities and crimes of communism, and also addressed Vladimir Putin and his government. He is a former senior advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev and is currently an economics professor at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Maltsev defected to the United States in 1989. Maltsev noted that 61 million people were murdered in the former Soviet Union. Under Joseph Stalin, 43 million people were murdered. The People’s Republic of China is the second worse murderous regime with 39 million people murdered to date. The twentieth century is known as the bloodiest, most war torn century with 170 million state murders. Maltsev said, “110 million of these murders were committed by communist governments.” He noted Gorbachev’s recent remarks, which were aimed at Putin, “You cannot whitewash the crimes of Joseph Stalin.” Gorbachev also stressed the need for Russia to pursue democracy with greater fervor, and to remember its horrific past. Maltsev was skeptical that Putin would voluntarily give up power. He spoke of the political opponents and journalists that Putin has wiped out. Maltsev is convinced Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB officer, was poisoned and killed by Putin. Maltsev continued to paint a dark portrait of Putin, criticizing Putin’s remarks that, “the most tragic event in the history of the twentieth century was the collapse of communism.” Maltsev pointed out how North Korean laborers did not want to return to their country when they were leased out to Soviet Siberian labor camps. The conditions in North Korea were so horrific they would beg and plead to stay in labor camps or Soviet jails. In Cuba, one of the last examples in the world of a Soviet-style command economy, the average wage is nine dollars a month. You can listen to Maltsev’s entire lecture at Acton’s website.

Call of the Entrepreneur Receives Further Attention and Praise

Erika Andersen reviewed the The Call of the Entrepreneur for Human Events in a piece titled, “Entrepreneurship Preserves Life as We Know It.” The Call premiered to DC audiences on September 26 at the E Street Cinema as part of the Renaissance Film Festival. Dr. Jay Richards of the Acton Institute reported, “People lined the back of the hall to see the film.” Andersen noted in her article, “The film denounces the myth that capitalists are self serving, arguing rather that they are almost wholly devoted to others.” The film will be translated into Spanish and other foreign languages. Jay Richards declared, “I think the film appeals to Africans and other non-Americans because it taps into themes that are universal and appeals to the human spirit.” Human Events is one of the oldest modern conservative publications, and the one that President Ronald Reagan called his “favorite newspaper.” The Weekly Standard also covered the premiere and discussed the film. Sonny Bunch wrote an article titled “The Right Stuff: Conservatives decide if you can’t beat Hollywood, join it.” Bunch declared, The Call of the Entrepreneur is “alternately funny, moving, and educational.” The Washington Times also praised the film, noting, “It may be hard for some people to believe that a discussion of economics can produce an emotionally powerful film experience, but the message and excellent cinematography of The Call of the Entrepreneur make it so. Two thumbs up.” The Jesse Helms Center in North Carolina screened The Call of the Entrepreneur to a packed house in September. Jerry Sogge, an entrepreneur, was in his car heading home when he heard Helms Center president John Dodd on the radio promoting the documentary. “I was a bit down on how business was going and felt as if my life was being sucked from me. I heard about this documentary and decided to stop and check it out. What a wonderful film. It inspired confidence and motivation and recharged my entrepreneurial desire to succeed.” The Jesse Helms Center will be hosting screenings across North Carolina, as well as reaching colleges and universities across the state with the film.

Jay Richards Addresses “What Would Jesus Drive” for NRO

Acton’s media director, Jay Richards, discussed environmental issues in an article titled “What Would Jesus Drive?: Electrified Evangelical theological confusion.” The article appeared in the National Review online edition. Richards declared, “With respect to the environment, the theological principles are uncontroversial: human beings, as image bearers of God, are placed as stewards over the created order.” What was problematic for Richards and many evangelicals is the agenda of the Evangelical Climate Initiative. The ECI is calling for donations of ninety dollars for carbon offsets. Richards, referring to media reports said, “Evangelicals who question the party line are either ignored or cast as enemies of the environment.” Discussing the 2002 “What Would Jesus Drive” campaign, Richards declared, “‘What would Jesus drive?’ is clever marketing, but ultimately employs terrible moral reasoning. The question doesn’t have one right answer.” He said in the article, “An outside observer is in no position to make a moral judgment just by observing that you drive an SUV. Such complexities make prudential judgments about transportation and energy use different from moral evils like selling child pornography or torturing a kitten for the fun of it, which are intrinsically evil.”

Health, Technology, and the Common Good

The Acton Institute hosted a conference titled “Health, Technology, and the Common Good” on September 28 in Rome. Opening remarks were delivered by Acton’s president Fr. Robert Sirico. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán gave a lecture on the future of health care. Barragán declared, “There is clearly a paradigm shift in the ethical reflection on health. This so called ‘new paradigm shift’ is supposed to be the official thought of the United Nations and its various bodies like WHO and UNESCO.” Barragán says while the goal has merit, it is basically flawed because it is “closed to the transcendent.” The cardinal is the president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Health Care. Acton’s Michael Miller noted, “There was a wide range of media present for the conference, which included Roman Catholic and international news agencies.” Some of the main topics covered focused on a good and sound anthropology basing health of the human person in the context of the common good. During the conference, Dr. David H. Carey delivered a paper on intellectual property rights and the role they play in building technology and creating medicines. Carey is a professor of philosophy at Whitman College in Washington State. Peter Thiel discussed issues related to technology. Thiel is the cofounder of PayPal and the founding investor of the social networking internet site, Facebook. Thompson Ayodele of Nigeria delivered an address on the greater need for DDT in Africa for combating malaria. Thompson also critiqued Rachel Carson’s famed publication Silent Spring, which changed pesticide policies globally. The conservative publication Human Events cited Carson’s book as one of the ten most harmful books of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In addition, Mrs. Grace-Marie Turner, founder and president of the Galen Institute, a public policy research organization that promotes free-market ideas for health reform, gave a lecture titled, “Consumer Advocacy,” where she defended competition and entrepreneurship over state-regulated health systems.